July 3rd, 2014 Earnest talk on Product Costs, Dissection of Vintage 141

http://www.meetup.com/TheProductGroup/events/180175672/

Jeremy Horn’s Product Group meetup is a hybrid of the focus group and brainstorming session. A topic is explored followed by the dissection of a startup, which clearly benefits the startup founder, as he or she listens to different points of view from the audience. Steve Blank would be proud.

http://www.vintage141.com/

As is always the case, the most attended meetups in New York can draw in a sizable crowd, even if it’s a stormy night and Independence Day is the next day. The lure of the meetup is its earnestness. In most cases, the attendees share their expertise, knowledge and insights.

Last July 3, it tackled “product costs,” with the attendees speaking about how it relates to infrastructure that incurs technical debt; that’s when you do it the wrong way, because it’s the fastest way to do it.

Then there’s product costs that ties in with development, when the quality of code is not up to par or worse yet, not scalable. There’s also the usual tug-of-war that happens between engineering and product.  Engineering wants to scale, while Product wants as many features.

A proof of concept helps to rein in costs, but it’s not exactly fool-proof. Most people naturally agreed it’s different when you have infinite sources like Google.

At the Product Group, the discussion is also freewheeling, so if you’re reporting the meetup as is, it’s not wrapped up in a specific theme, like an organized event.  One person talked about acquisition costs, but the topic swerved to marketing strategy and plain old tactics as part of product costs. where it is free to market your startup, how to find bloggers and partners that can champion you, and how social media visibility is essential. Marketing is a topic that clearly needs a separate session.

The featured startup of the night, vintage 141, is an app that socializes small groups of trusted friends or co-workers. “Vintage groups are akin to digital cocktail parties (both social and professional) and allow for information to be safely passed on from one group to another (and back) without broadcasting the information to an entire network or spamming everyone with emails and text messages. Our goal is to take the ‘work’ out of networking," said founder Andy Kennedy who comes from the finance world.

Other than the description of the app, Kennedy was right in assuming a neutral stance on his app, the better for the attendees to speak freely about it. By distancing himself, he explains how friends can help each other share knowledge quickly—noise-free and in a more enjoyable manner. “(The app) is information passed on like a baton.”

The broadness of information gathering is, of course, a challenge. How do you begin? Kennedy is thinking information becomes a trusted source when it moves to relationships. 

Kennedy said the app will be renamed grapevine.im and will be launched three months later, which will benefit him as he takes in all the inputs and use it to pivot before his product launch.

Some insights from the audience:

  • Understand that people need an ego stroke, so have some vanity metric in there
  • Pick  a small segment and market it
  • Think of the noise-to-signal ratio
  • Think life milestones
  • Think authenticity
  • Think gamification
  • It could be an enterprise solution

 “What I’m learning now is how it’s important to position this (app),” he said whose comments  on various social networks were also interesting. He’s clearly not a fan of Quora and Twitter, but thinks “you don’t do anything there (on Linkedin)” and Google + is a list-based structure.”